Spix's Macaw
Spix's Macaw is the only member of the parrot
Parrots, also known as psittacines , are birds of the roughly 372 species in 86 genera that make up the order Psittaciformes, found in most tropical and subtropical regions. The order is subdivided into three families: the Psittacidae , the Cacatuidae and the Strigopidae...

 genus Cyanopsitta. They are critically endangered, possibly extinct in the wild (IUCN 3.1) The species is conserved through several breeding programs. It was found in Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, in parts of the Brazilian state of Bahia. It has a very restricted natural habitat due to its dependence on the Caraibeira
Tabebuia aurea
Tabebuia aurea is a species of Tabebuia native to South America in Suriname, Brazil, eastern Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay, and northern Argentina. The common English name Caribbean Trumpet Tree is misleading, as it is not native to the Caribbean. It is a small dry season-deciduous tree growing to 8 m tall...

 (Tabebuia aurea
Tabebuia aurea
Tabebuia aurea is a species of Tabebuia native to South America in Suriname, Brazil, eastern Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay, and northern Argentina. The common English name Caribbean Trumpet Tree is misleading, as it is not native to the Caribbean. It is a small dry season-deciduous tree growing to 8 m tall...

tree for nesting.


Spix's Macaw is 55–57 cm (21.5–23.5 in) long. It is various shades of blue, including a pale blue head, pale blue underparts, and vivid blue upperparts, wings, and tail. The underside of the wings and tail are black. They have a bare area of grey/black facial skin which sometimes fades to white when they are juveniles. The beak is entirely black except for juveniles which have a white stripe down the center of the beak. The white beak stripe and facial skin of juveniles disappears after 1–2 years. The birds' feet are light grey as juveniles, then become dark grey, and are almost black as adults. The eyes are dark as juveniles but fade to white as the birds mature.The mating call of Spix's Macaw can be described as the sound "whichaka". The sound is made by creating a low rumble in the abdomen bringing the sound up to a high pitch. Its voice is a repeated short grating. It also makes squawking noises.


Spix's Macaw is named after the German naturalist Johann Baptist von Spix
Johann Baptist von Spix
Dr. Johann Baptist Ritter von Spix was a German naturalist.Spix was born in Höchstadt, Middle Franconia, as the seventh of eleven children. His boyhood home is the site of the Spix Museum , opened to the public in 2004...

, who discovered the species in 1817. The decline of the species is attributed to hunting and trapping of the birds, destruction of its habitat, and the introduction of the Africanized bee
Africanized bee
Africanized honey bees, known colloquially as "killer bees", are a hybrid variety of the European honeybee , generated by a man-made breeding of the African honey bee, A. m. scutellata, with various European honey bees such as the Italian bee A. m. ligustica and A. m. iberiensis. These bees are far...

, which competes for nesting sites and kills breeding individuals at their nests. The last three birds were captured for trade in 1987 and 1988. A single male, paired with a female Blue-winged Macaw
Blue-winged Macaw
The Blue-winged Macaw , in aviculture more commonly known as Illiger's Macaw, is a species of macaw found in central and eastern South America. It was previously placed in the genus Ara or Propyrrhura. Blue-winged Macaws have been known to reach an age of 50–60 years.- Description:It has a total...

, was discovered at the site in 1990. A female Spix's Macaw released from captivity at the site in 1995 disappeared after seven weeks. The last wild male died at the site in October 2000. The species probably became extinct in the wild around 2000, when the last known wild bird died. No sightings of this macaw
Macaws are small to large, often colourful New World parrots. Of the many different Psittacidae genera, six are classified as macaws: Ara, Anodorhynchus, Cyanopsitta, Primolius, Orthopsittaca, and Diopsittaca...

 have been made in the wild since 2000, but part of the range has not been surveyed, so it can not be presumed to be extinct in the wild.

Conservation efforts

The Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis (IBAMA, Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources in English) established in 1990 the Permanent Committee for the Recovery of Spix’s Macaw, called CPRAA, and its the Ararinha Azul Project (Little Blue Macaw Project) in order to conserve the species. Other participants included BirdLife International
BirdLife International
BirdLife International is a global Partnership of conservation organisations that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources...

, Birds International
Birds International
Birds International Incorporated or BII is a company working in the field of aviculture established in 1975 by Antonio de Dios...

World Wide Fund for Nature
The World Wide Fund for Nature is an international non-governmental organization working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment, formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States...

-Brazil, and the American Federation of Aviculture; most of the funding came from IBAMA and the Fundación Loro Parque
Loro Parque
Loro Parque is a zoo located on the outskirts of Puerto de la Cruz on Tenerife, Spain where it houses an extensive and diverse reserve of animal and plant species...

 (Loro Parque Foundation) of Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

. Several exchanges of birds were made between institutions and individuals for increasing the probability of breeding based on DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

 analysis as part of the program. "The first breeding occurred in Brazil, in the aviaries of the late Alvaro Rossman Carvalhaes, a once prominent aviculturist from Santos. The number and years in which Carvalhaes has bred Spix's has been the subject of much confusion: Low (1984, 1986 and 1990) and Keller have both written that he kept a pair in the 1950's and that eight young were reared during this period. King (1978-1979), in a presumable reference to the breeding pair reported that they died in the 1970's." Birds International's efforts turned out to be the most successful: "Dr. Hammerli produced young Spix's macaws in 1984, however, Antonio de Dios has had the most successful breeding results at Birds International Inc. This collection has achieved a second generation breeding, a real breakthrough for the future survival of this species.". The committee was dissolved in 2002 due to irreconcilable differences between the parties involved. In 2004 a committee was re-formed and re-structured under the title of “The Working Group for the Recovery of the Spix’s Macaw”.

Captive population

As at year 2010 there are approximately 85 Spix’s Macaws in captivity. 73 of these are participating in an international breeding program managed by the Institute Chico Mendes of Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio), the Natural Heritage Branch of the Brazilian Government. 56 of these are managed at Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation
Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation
Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation is a privately owned wild life preserve in Qatar. The center is home to roughly 2,000 animals and has a staff of 200. It is one of the leading centers for breeding endangered and threatened species, including the Spix's Macaw, Beira antelope, Golden-headed lion...

 (AWWP), State of Qatar
Qatar , also known as the State of Qatar or locally Dawlat Qaṭar, is a sovereign Arab state, located in the Middle East, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeasterly coast of the much larger Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its...

, which took over the population of Birds International
Birds International
Birds International Incorporated or BII is a company working in the field of aviculture established in 1975 by Antonio de Dios...

 and where a captive breeding program is guiding Spix’s Macaw a step closer to re-establishment back to its natural habitat in Brazil.
Institutions Males Females Unknown Total Bred in captivity in last 6 years
Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation (AWWP), Qatar, Persian Gulf, Middle East 22 34 0 56 27
Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots (ACTP), Berlin, Germany 0 2 0 2 1
Loro Parque Foundation (LPF), Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain 3 5 0 8 5
Lymington Foundation (LF) São Paulo, Brazil 2 1 0 3 0
São Paulo Zoo (SPZ), São Paulo, Brazil 2 2 0 4 0
Total 29 44 0 73 33

All chicks bred at AWWP have been hand-reared by experienced staff, since it is considered a safer option than parent-rearing and the priority at the moment is to increase the population. When the captive population is considered more secure, breeding pairs will be given the opportunity to raise some of their own young.
All Spix’s Macaw chicks bred are required to be close leg banded with a uniquely coded ring and at the time of their first health check, they are also to be implanted with a micro-chip transponder
In telecommunication, the term transponder has the following meanings:...


Popular culture

  • In the 2011 animated movie Rio
    Rio (film)
    Rio, often promoted as Rio: The Movie, is a 2011 American 3D computer-animated musical comedy film produced by Blue Sky Studios and directed by Carlos Saldanha. The title refers to the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, in which the film is set. The film features the voices of Jesse Eisenberg, Anne...

    , the main characters Blu (Jesse Eisenberg
    Jesse Eisenberg
    Jesse Adam Eisenberg is an American actor. He made his screen debut with the comedy-drama television series Get Real from 1999 to 2000...

    ) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway
    Anne Hathaway (actress)
    Anne Jacqueline Hathaway is an American actress. After several stage roles, she appeared in the 1999 television series Get Real. She played Mia Thermopolis in The Princess Diaries...

    ) are the supposed last pair of Spix's Macaws in the world (although they're referred to as Blue Macaws). The movie even references their extinct-in-the-wild status and at one point Túlio Monteiro mentions the species' scientific name.

Further reading

  • Juniper, Tony
    Tony Juniper
    Tony Juniper is a British environmental campaigner, author and commentator most recognised for his work as Executive Director of Friends of the Earth, England, Wales and Northern Ireland and Vice Chair of Friends of the Earth International from 2000-2008.Juniper was the Green Party's parliamentary...

     (2003) Spix's Macaw : The Race to Save the World's Rarest Bird ISBN 0-7434-7550-X
  • Silva, Tony
    Tony Silva
    Tony Silva is an American ornithologist and aviculturist that has authored several books on parrots, hundreds of articles and was curator of birds at Tenerife's Loro Parque, the largest parrot park in the world...

    (1993) "A Monograph of Macaws and Conures" ISBN 1-895270-00-6

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.